Random stuff overheard from New York literary agents

Publish date:

Hi Writers,
Sorry for the lame headline. I’m putting the October issue of Writer’s Digest to bed and my clever headline writing capacity is shot.

But I wanted to share some of the notes I kept during my recent trip to New York to accompany our annual competitions winners to meet agents (see posts below).

Many thanks to the agents who guided us including:
• Annelise Robey
• Mollie Glick
• Peter Rubie
• Stephany Evans
• Jennie Dunham
• Michelle Brower
• Donald Maass

So here, in no particular order of importance is random stuff overheard from New York agents:

• The term “book club novel” is hot; consider using in lieu of “literary” fiction; “crossover appeal” is another good catchphrase.

• Make sure your synopsis is concise; stick to the main plotline and characters.

• Know what the core conflict/ turning point of your story is.

• Practice your “elevator pitch.” Be able to verbally sum up your novel in less than two minutes.

• It takes a long time and a lot of effort to find the right agent because you want to find an agent who shares your vision for your writing career. This is one of the most important relationships of your life.

• Many newer/ younger agents are coming into the field with strong editing background and expect to do a lot of editing.

• Never mass e-mail agents; take the time to get to know the other authors they represent and if you’re a good fit.

• Get some publishing credits however you can before you pitch a novel, this sends a signal to everyone that you are a publishable writer.

For everything else you always wanted to know about literary agents but were afraid to ask, go seek the keeper of literary agent wisdom Chuck Sambuchino, editor of Guide to Literary Agents.

Keep Writing,

Let me know if you have any questions, comments or clarifications and I will attempt to once again decipher my own handwriting.